This basic game, with no restrictions on the cards needed to open or win, is sometimes known as California Draw or Guts, though Guts is also the name of another poker-like game.
Five-Card Draw is played with a standard 52-card pack, and there can be from two to six players – six probably making the best game. It is possible for seven or or even eight people to play, but then there is the disadvantage that the cards may run out during the draw.
Before the deal each player puts an agreed ante into the pot. Usually the ante is the same amount as the minimum bet. After the shuffle and cut, the dealer deals the cards face down clockwise one at a time until each player has five cards. Players may look at their cards, and there is a betting round begun by the player to the dealer’s left. If everyone passes (checks) in this first betting round, the cards are thrown in, the turn to deal passes to the left, the pot remains and everyone adds another ante to it.
In fixed or spread-limit games, the number of raises after the initial opening bet is usually limited to four. If more than one player remains in the game after the first betting round, active players have one opportunity to improve their hands by discarding some cards and obtaining replacements. Beginning with the nearest active player to dealer’s left, each active player announces the number of cards to be replaced, discards that number of cards face down, and is dealt an equal number of cards face down by the dealer.
A player can discard from zero to three cards. The dealer should wait until the player has discarded the number of cards stated before starting to deal replacements. Discarding no cards at all and thus keeping one’s original hand is known as standing pat. Naturally, it is in the players’ interest to wait for their turns and not give away information in advance about how many cards they intend to draw.
In a game with more than six players it is possible that the deck will run out of cards (since each player can consume up to eight cards – a hand of five plus three more drawn). If the dealer finds that not enough cards remain then the discards of the players who have already discarded are shuffled and cut to form a new deck from which replacement cards can be dealt to the remaining players. Reusing cards rejected by other players is not very satisfactory, and this is why six players is normally set as the maximum number for this game.
Until the second round of betting begins, any player is entitled to ask how many cards any other player drew, and be given an honest answer. After all active players have had a chance to draw there is a second round of betting, begun by the player who opened the betting on the first round.
The minimum and maximum bets allowed in the second betting round are normally set higher than in the first betting round – typically double.
In a fixed limit or spread-limit game, the second betting round, like the first, is normally limited to a bet and four raises. After the second betting round, if the pot has not already been won, players show their cards in clockwise order, beginning with the last player who took aggressive action (bet or raised) in the second betting round. If everyone checked in the second betting round, the player who opened the betting in the first betting round shows first.